The Ex-PM’s petition calling for a royal commission into the influence of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is proving rather too much for the Australian Parliamentary website. So many users have reported problems trying to sign it that even the site itself admits it’s in trouble.
The Rudd Petition is having a hard time
Kevin Rudd’s petition calls for a Royal Commission into the influence of News Corporation on the Australian media landscape. While the merits of that approach are certainly debatable as a control measure, what’s not debateable is that it’s proved conceptually very popular indeed. At the time of writing some 88,747 people had signed, according to the APH web site.
That number might be much higher, however, with numerous reports over the weekend that users trying to sign the petition couldn’t. The sheer weight of numbers trying to do so brought the APH website to its knees.
Call me paranoid but is anyone else having trouble logging in to Kevin Rudd’s petition calling for a media royal commission?
— ????Brian Jones (@Darthspoog) October 10, 2020
So many people wanting to sign Kevin Rudd’s #MurdochRoyalCommission petition
that Morrison’s government have deemed it a cyber attack.
We’re coming for you. pic.twitter.com/SNkuRI0O8W
— Jules Knew A Spook ???? ???? ????????♂ ???? ???? (@and_spook) October 10, 2020
As of Monday, it still appears to be an issue:
Rudd’s petition calling for a #MurdochRoyalCommission has been so popular it brought down the parliament site hosting the petition and people were suspected of being bots for the sheer volume of people wanting to sign. So be patient and go sign the petition #auspol https://t.co/FOMKXVoVZ5
— Martin Andersen (@mtsandersen) October 12, 2020
It’s proved to be so much of an issue that there’s now a disclaimer on the APH website, stating that:
“We are aware some users are currently experiencing issues signing petitions. We are working on a resolution. If you are unable to sign please try again later.”
Governemt website failures aren’t anything new
The Federal Government’s track record with keeping important sites online under heavy load hasn’t always been particularly good, with the MyGov site crashing earlier this year once the Coronavirus stimulus package was announced or looking a little further back, 2016’s infamous #CensusFail.
This isn’t quite as vital a piece of web infrastructure, however. The actual petition itself will be live until 04 November 2020, and is open to any Australian citizen or resident, although not if you’re a member of Parliament.
While the number on this petition is remarkable, as is the speed with which it’s created issues for the APH web site, there’s nothing in Australian legislation that forces the sitting government or opposition to take particular notice of any petition or poll.
The UK parliament on which our system of government is based does in fact have that kind of system in place. If we had similar rules, this petition would be just over 11,000 signatures short of being considered for parliamentary debate.